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The Town That Started the Civil War

av Nat Brandt

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912221,806 (4)1
The story of how the slavery question came into focus when a fugitive slave was saved by the town of Oberlin, Ohio, in 1858.

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This book sets forth the events surrounding the capture and rescue of a fugitive slave from Kentucky. The book is well written and fairly easy to follow considering the fact that there are around 70 characters between the Captors, Rescuers, Magistrates, etc.

The biggest issue that I had with the book was the praise rendered to the abolitionist's who formed themselves into a mob, endangered the lives of civilians, besides confiscating, damaging, and destroying private property.

The issue of the Fugitive Slave Law is a complicated one. Article Four, Section Two of the constitution states the following: "No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due."

If this clause is understood in light of Biblical Law, only those Person's held to Service of Labour as punishment for crime would be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due. For under Biblical Law a slave that has escaped from his master is not to be delivered up to his master, but is to remain free without consequence (Deut 23:16-17).

Thus the Fugitive Slave Law which permitted the slave owner to recover his runaway slave was an unjust law, and the townspeople of Oberlin did right in opposing this unjust law. However, they were wrong in the manner of which they opposed the recapture of the fugitive slave. Their antinomian attitude, and flagrant disrespect for the lawful authorities lead to a dangerous standoff that could have resulted in the loss of life.

The chapter relating the aftermath was particularly insightful. Especially the portion regarding Abraham Lincoln's position on slavery and abolitionism. ( )
  AmundsonLibrary | Mar 4, 2019 |
The Town That Started the Civil War by Nat Brandt

★★★

Premise: a little-known event that occurred in the college town of Oberlin, Ohio, a stop on the Underground Railroad. Slave-hunters incurred the resentment of the townspeople, a wrath that came to a boil one day in August 1858 when runaway slave John Price was abducted by these bounty hunters. Outraged, Oberlin College professors and students, in company with white and free-black townspeople, rescued Price and hid him in a faculty house, an initially abortive deliverance that would later, after many machinations, prove successful--although 37 of the liberators would be indicted for violating the Fugitive Slave Act.


This is a book that I felt had a great story premise but did a poor job of actually writing it. Even though it was less than 300 pages this book took me well over 2 weeks to read. One would think that such an interesting and such little known part of history could be made more exciting to read. But it wasn’t. The whole book just seemed like one big quote and a bunch of “and then this happened, and then this happened” – I often only got a few pages in before falling into a deep sleep. Names are thrown at you left and right, there was just no way to keep up with everyone the author mentions – although he nicely adds a list at the beginning of who everyone is, and it’s quite the list. I think this book would have been better if it had focused on some key players instead of every person that maybe, perhaps had something to do with it. There are photos but they don’t always correlate with what is going on. A random picture of a man may be found on a page, it takes awhile to realize that said man was mentioned many pages before and 20 people before, leaving you to scratch your head. Perhaps I am missing something since from the few reviews I found, people enjoyed it greatly but I just could not get into it. I gave it three stars for its attempt at a little known subject matter and also that is wrapped up so nicely.
( )
  UberButter | Feb 9, 2016 |
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The story of how the slavery question came into focus when a fugitive slave was saved by the town of Oberlin, Ohio, in 1858.

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